National news

  • Council cuts hit older people hardest, commissioner says – BBC. “Older people’s commissioner for Wales Sarah Rochira, told BBC Wales’ Week In Week Out programme reduced spending could have a “devastating impact” on lives with costly future consequences.” … “Ms Rochira said older people constantly raised with her the importance of services such as community transport, public toilets, libraries, leisure facilities and day centres”

“There is a lot of short termism going on at the moment with local authority cuts because taking out the day centres, taking out bus routes, those libraries, will just mean that those older people within their communities will end up needing to access other services” Sarah Rochira, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales.

  • Losing Britain’s libraries: The places where we discover books are imperilled like never before – Independent. “Last week The Bookseller published the following words on its cover. “The public library network could reach a tipping point before the end of the year where we have lost a level of service that we will never be able to get back . . .  We really are in a state of emergency.” The words were spoken to us by library campaigner Laura Swaffield, and reflect a sense of alarm and urgency about our libraries that is sadly not shared by the current coalition Government. A tweet of this front-cover I published on Friday has since been retweeted more than 1,000 times.” … “More people are interested in visiting their local library than bother to vote in the General Election.”

“Places where we discover books are imperiled like never before. We won’t know the true value of these spaces until they disappear. In the meantime, however we do it, let’s fight to keep them open.”  Philip Jones, editor of the BookSeller.

  • Review of Public Libraries – Lglibtech. “A page for the “Report considering the current structure and role of public libraries” has been set up on Local Government Library Technology (LGLibTech). It contains the information provided on the Government’s (DCMS)  website and also (many thanks esp. to Frances! ) a trail of relevant blog/post articles.” … “The aim is to provide a place to share information and keep track of useful content. LGLibTech is a free and open (creative commons licensed) community resource. Anyone can edit it– so do feel free to add any content you feel is helpful.) For the previous (Labour)  ‘modernisation review” LGLibTech provided links to some of the responses submitted e.g. from CILIP, SCL, UKOLN etc.). While technology is not the only factor in driving (disruptive) change it is perhaps one of the major ones in shaping the competitive challenge public (and other) libraries face.”
  • These skills are essential: but don’t call them digital – UK Authority. “Five years ago, “digital inclusion” focused on getting people online, but the focus now is on a range of basic skills including email and transacting with personal information online, he said. But one barrier is the terminology used when talking to people about gaining these skills, including an unexpected word: “digital”. “Words confuse, and the word people hate most is digital”, Wilkinson said. “We found they weren’t sure if you were talking about digital TV, or radio. But the web and the internet, they understood.””
  • This England: How Arts Council England uses its investment to shape a national cultural ecology – Arts Council England. “Today is the first No Boundaries conference. It’s taking place in Bristol and York and is an occasion for open discussion about the state of the arts and culture and it is therefore a fitting time for the Arts Council to publish the analysis of how the Arts Council uses its investment to shape a national cultural ecology – This England: How Arts Council England uses its investment to shape a national cultural ecologyThis England sets out that the Arts Council’s role has been to direct its investment in considered and sustainable ways, to benefit the whole arts and cultural ecology – the living, evolving network of artists, cultural organisations and venues co-operating in many fruitful partnerships – artistic, structural and financial and can be found on our website here:  Yesterday was also the deadline for submissions to the Culture, Media and Sport committee inquiry; this is now available here:  “
  • What Do Public Librarians and Library Staff Do? – Lauren Smith. A full and very long list of all the things that library staff actually do.  [Comment on it, add new stuff – it’s very relevant especially at the moment – Ed.]

International news

Local UK news by authority

  • Leicestershire – Future of libraries to be considered – In Loughborough. ““This consultation will see if people are keen to run and even improve our community libraries, with our support. “Many parish councils have been talking about running the libraries, because they are community hubs, staging job clubs and other activities.” The report proposes a 12 week consultation, from April to June, with the public and key stakeholders such as district and parish councils and the Arts Council.”
  • Leicestershire – Petition launched over libraries cost-cutting plans – Leicester Mercury. “petition has been launched opposing cost-cutting plans which would see  parish councils and voluntary groups take over responsibility for running the  county’s smaller libraries. Leicestershire County Council is looking to transfer 37 branches away from  its direct control to become community-run libraries as part of plans to save up to £1.4  million a year.”
  • Lincolnshire – ‘Stop unlawful library changes’ – Spalding Today. “At least 23,000 people signed several petitions against the cuts which Mr Nauta warned would “destroy the library service in Lincolnshire and damage the sense of community, hope and democracy” in Britain’s second largest county. A spokesman for the Culture Department said: “The government believes that the operation of the public library service is best managed by local authorities who are best placed to determine what is best in their area, on the basis of local need.””
  • Plymouth – City centre needs to find new purpose – Plymouth Herald. “shopping heart of Plymouth needs to be turned into a place where families can  fill their time, says the city centre boss. And new uses like museums, libraries and bars could push out some of the West  End shops, Douglas Fletcher, chairman of the City Centre Company, said.”
  • Sheffield – I won’t vote Labour after libraries decision – Star / Letters. “Having read a letter in The Star, regarding library closures, imagine how sorry I was, to witness a group of workmen removing the fittings from the inside of Chapeltown Library the next day. Already the vandalism  of this excellent building has started. Some of the windows have had eggs thrown at them by the local yobs. Within no time at all, this once-splendid building will be seen in a sorry, sad state. I now live in Ecclesfield and it is only a matter of time before the same fate befalls Ecclesfield Library. The real act of vandalism I feel has been carried out by Sheffield’s own Labour Party, by allowing these closures to take place in the first place. Political point making to central government on their part, I feel.”
  • St Helens – Libraries secure £150,000 for arts projects – St Helens Star. ” “Over the last few years, St Helens has been a pioneer in developing, programming and staging arts activities in our 13 library spaces. “This award from the Arts Council recognises the fantastic, innovative work that we’ve been doing, and during the coming year we’ll continue to stage high quality arts performances and activities that turn our spaces into real cultural hubs.”” Funding includes “performances, workshops, exhibitions, digital arts projects and other events taking place through to April 2015”
  • Staffordshire – Life-Changing Travelling Library Service in Staffordshire – CILIP. “The ladies on the bus were amazing and so helpful and caring – I felt at home! My love of books was re-kindled from that day and I can honestly say its changed my life. The pure joy of ‘reading’ again is unmeasurable and its inspired me so much I have applied to become a volunteer, delivering books to the housebound. I wanted to give something back to the Library who have helped me so much.”
  • Surrey – Council deal cuts cost of Merstham Library revamp by a quarter – Surrey Mirror. “The facility, on Weldon Way, is due to be refurbished as part of a   multi-million pound council scheme, following  investment in Dorking and Cobham’s libraries. Now council officers have signed a deal with East Sussex County Council to  bulk-buy fittings such as carpets, lighting and furniture, at a saving of more  than 25 per cent.” … “The refurbishment contracts last for four years. The five firms involved have confirmed discounts of up to 27 per cent in the  first year and similar savings are  expected in the other years.”